NEW LENOX – A new look to Lincoln-Way West’s Warriors Invite produced a whole lot of positive results for area boys track and field teams on Friday.
After only two area competitors won titles in last year’s meet, five individuals captured eight titles and one school won all four of the relays.
It also produced the first-place team as coach Dustin Waddell’s Lincoln-Way Central squad beat Bradley-Bourbonnais, 131-120, for top honors. Joliet West (108) was third, Providence Catholic (94.5) took fifth and the host Warriors (87.5) finished sixth.
One of last year’s winners, Central’s Nate Rittenbacher, repeated in the 300-meter hurdles (41.08 seconds) and also won the 110 hurdles (16.09). Knight Thomas Riley also won the pole vault (13 feet, 1 inch).
Rittenbacher, a junior, was excited to perform in front of his sister Ashley, a standout distance runner for Central who graduated in 2005. She competed at Northern Illinois and now lives overseas but was back in town for a personal visit.
“This is awesome for our team,” Rittenbacher said. “We’re really running good times and placing well and it’s all about competing against who’s around you. I feel that the whole race (300 hurdles) is all mental. My time wasn’t as I wanted it to be but I’m striving for sectionals, where I hope I can run a flawless race. Ashley had a lot of experience going to state and it’s great talking to her since it eases my nerves. Part of the reason that I’m so motivated to run is I grew up being around her. I watched her running all the time and that was awesome.”
Joliet West captured titles in all four relays with senior Max Ebong starting off the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400. Omari Ferguson, Jabari Harris, Danta Rooks and Anthony Sain each ran in two of the relays. Also, Daelin Lockman claimed top honors in high jump (5-10).
The 4x100 (43.22) consisted of Ebong, Harris, Zeke Tulloch and Ferguson while the 4x200 (1:31.96) included Ebong, Colt Dolak, TJ Neal and Ferguson. Competing in the 4x400 (3:27.66) were Ebong, Sain, Harris and Rooks while the 4x800 (8:20.39) featured Sain, Jeremy Sikes, Arturo Cruz and Rooks.
“It was really just an amazing feeling and I have to thank all of my teammates,” Ebong said. “They’re the most encouraging guys that I’ve ever had the blessing to know. I have to thank coach (Seandell) Davis, who’s really pushed me and believed in me. Coach (Jason) Aubry kept telling me that he thought that I could do it and he’s helped me blossom from there. These guys are my brothers and this is a fellowship and I love every moment being out here. We always have teammates standing right by us, in good or bad, and you have to love that.”
The Celtics were led by junior Gavin Jaime, who easily won the 400 (49.61) and the 200 (22.51) while also tying for second place in pole vault (12-7).
“I’m just training and trying to get better,” Jaime said. “Last year I had a downfall and didn’t make outdoor state, so that’s my goal for this year. I’m hoping to get there this year in order to get a lot of exposure for colleges. Last year we had a pretty good team and won conference. We still have a really good junior group and this year’s sophomores are also pretty good so we’re hoping to have a good team again next year.”
And the Warriors got a pair of titles from senior Evan Mitchell, who won both the 800 (1:59.29) and the 1,600 (4:29.91). As a junior, he took fourth in the 3,200 in Class 2A and also won medals the last two years in cross country. He will continue his education and career at Bradley University.
“It’s different this year in 3A,” Mitchell said. “In cross, my big goal was being All-State, and I wouldn’t sleep at night thinking about it. I could have contended for a state championship in 2A, but 3A is really deep, so the big goal now is to be All-State again in the two mile. When it comes postseason time, I should be really strong for the two mile and mile. Being on this track for the last time feels weird. It feels like yesterday was the first time I was out here.”
Finishing in second for the Knights were Xavier Auld in the 100 (11.77), Jared Kreis in the 3,200 (9:56.47), Andrew Englert in the 1,600 (4:36.17), Shane Raeshler in pole vault (12-7) and their 4x800 (8:27.73) and 4x400 (3:30.95) relays. Central got thirds from Alex Manka in long jump (18-11.5) and from its 4x200 relay (1:35.72).
Claiming second place for the Tigers was Rooks in the 800 (2:01.57). They also received thirds from Marcus Blackmon in triple jump (40-6) and from Neal in the 100 (11.79).
Taking second for the Celtics were Joey Markasovic in the 300 hurdles (42.57), DeShon Gavin in high jump (5-8) and Quentin Davis in shot put (44-6.5). They got thirds from Sam Rost in discus (127-9) and Tom Farley in shot put (40-9.5).
Placing second for the Warriors was Casey Gervase in the 400 (51.24). The hosts also received a third from Jon Stiglic in the 3,200 (10:04.51) and from its 4x400 relay (3:34.46).